Council Liaison Responsibilities – The Year in Review

The following is my annual report to Mayor and Council, received at the January 14, 2013 Council meeting, summarizing my Council Liaison duties for 2012.  These appointments are made each December by the Mayor, in consultation with Council members.  My appointments for 2013 remain the same.  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.  Thank you.

End of Year Summary Report to Oak Bay Mayor and Council on

Council Liaison Responsibilities

December 2012

In December 2011, I was assigned as Council Liaison to the following standing Commissions and Committees.  As the year draws to a close, I want to acknowledge the ongoing assistance of our Municipal staff and Council colleagues who help support this work:  

    Oak Bay Heritage Commission

The Commission meets monthly and launched its planning process following approval of its budget in spring 2012.  The heritage planning process is designed to assess community values and integrate them with overall land use objectives related to the historical and heritage significance of buildings, streetscapes, local environment including tree canopies and natural habitats, neighbourhoods and landmarks, all of which reflect the unique characteristics that help define Oak Bay.

The Commission is chaired by Pat Wilson and is comprised of talented, dedicated and skilled volunteers who reflect considerable experience on a variety of heritage matters.  This year, the Commission’s budget was enhanced and it subsequently added new Statements of Significance, received a number of referrals from Council, continued to review and update the Register and hosted four Town Hall meeting focus groups, facilitated by consultants Stuart Stark and Luxton and Associates, related to development of a renewed Heritage Plan.

The Commission lost one of its long-serving and skilled volunteers, Gwen Ewan who will be remembered as a dedicated individual who contributed invaluable time and energy to the Commission and to her community.  Despite Gwen’s untimely death, the Commission (Pat Wilson) continued the process that Gwen started before her death, Heritage registration of Gwen’s home.

In conclusion, the Commission continues its planning process and anticipates a first draft plan by spring 2013.  The Commission is a hard-working group that contributes significant expertise to the quality of decision-making on heritage and its important role in land use.  While there are ongoing challenges faced by the Commission and the municipality on preserving properties of historical and heritage significance, the need to promote education and public awareness remains integral to future heritage sustainability.

  Oak Bay Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation meets monthly and is an independent committee that largely administers grant funding to support heritage property owners in making heritage-appropriate improvements to their properties. 

The Foundation is also active in helping to promote Oak Bay heritage and history through other significant activities that include partnerships with the Heritage Commission, Oak Bay Archives and others, to develop and present community exhibits and lectures related to Oak Bay’s history of First Nations (Salish Monument project), agriculture and the Uplands.  The Foundation also supports in-house volunteer development through its participation in workshops and conferences.  While the Foundation has not made significant grant-funding awards this year, its other activities indirectly encourage community support for heritage preservation, restoration and education.

 Oak Bay Archives

Oak Bay Archives, through the ongoing efforts of Jean Sparks and other volunteers who assist her with the work, has made significant progress this year on two fronts:  Council’s approval of a new budget to support recruiting the part-time services of a professional archivist (Carolyn Duncan); and, enhanced resources to organize and catalogue all of the archival materials located in the Hall basement, including website improvements.

These are significant achievements in helping to anchor the work and ensure continuity and accurate archival record keeping, both hard copy and digital.  It is also recognized that without Jean Sparks’ expertise and dedication to the Archives, it would be challenging to showcase so expertly Oak Bay’s significant history.  Archives will continue this work throughout 2013.

    CRD Arts Committee

One of a variety of Committees that reports to the CRD Board, the CRD Arts Committee meets monthly and is comprised of elected representatives from eight participating municipalities that support administration and adjudication of funding programs to support regional arts and cultural activities. Through three grant-funding programs (Operating Grants, Project Grants and IDEA Grants), the Committee also works with the Arts Advisory Council.  The Council funds IDEA grants used to encourage creation of new, innovative or developmental arts activity by organizations not eligible under other Arts Service programs.

Oak Bay is a major funding partner of regional arts and cultural activities, as are seven other municipalities.  Unfortunately, not all municipalities participate and this poses ongoing challenges for the Arts Committee related to funding and decision-making.

At the end of this year, the Arts Development Division, Corporate Services, submitted its three-year divisional plan to the CRD Board. The CRD Arts Committee reviewed the plan and made some helpful suggestions for reporting and assessing arts’ activity in the region.  The Committee is a strong group and continues to advocate for improvements to funding support for arts and cultural development in the CRD.

   Royal/MacPherson Theatre Society Board (RMTS)

The RMTS Board oversees the operation of Victoria’s two major theatres, the Royal Theatre and MacPherson Playhouse and meets monthly.  The combined 2013 budget for the RMTS is estimated at $2.886M.  The budget breakdown includes revenue, direct costs, costs and expenses, operational earnings and other income (grants, HST recovery and interest). At the Board’s last meeting on November 23, 2012, submitted budget and financial statements were approved.

The context for budgeting and operations is impacted “by the current economic climate, that is, that the Canadian economy will continue to be affected by the uncertain international economy, with little or no growth anticipated in the Society’s revenues.” The financial report further states, “the current 2012 budget…predicts a breakeven year before the expenditure of the Centennial project that includes an expenditure of $65,000.”  The report goes on to say that “Attendance levels will be similar in 2013 to 2012 levels…but the Theatres’ revenues will be supported by increased performances by “for profit promoters.”

The budget number of anticipated 2013 performances held in the Theatres is:

  1. Royal Theatre – Estimated at 187 performances (195 for 2012).
  2. MacPherson Playhouse – Estimated at 145 performances (145 for 2012).

The larger local performing arts “not for profit” charities will continue with similar quantity of performances as held in 2012 (Symphony, Opera, Dance Victoria) and Jazz Victoria is expected to perform in 2013 as it did in 2012.

    Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA)

The GVLRA Board meets monthly or at the call of the Chair and represents an association of member municipalities through which all labour relations’ matters are managed and administered.  This includes collective bargaining and administration of health and pension benefits for such bargaining units as CUPE, fire and police etc.  Oak Bay also represents the RMTS Board on GVLRA.

All GVLRA meetings are held in-camera and in addition to elected representatives who comprise the Board, senior administrative and human resources’ staff from each of the member municipalities and CRD attends as observers and external resources to the Board.

While 2012 has been a relatively quiet year on the labour relations’ front; much of the Board’s activity has focused on an organizational review precipitated by the retirement of Ron Brundson, senior labour negotiator who managed the organization for many years.  Results of the review and decisions about the GVLRA’s future will be further explored in the New Year.  For your information, the GVLRA has provided to each member Mayor and Council, through CAOs, a breakdown of projected contribution funding to ensure the ongoing viability of the organization.

 Oak Bay Official Community Plan Review Committee

Formed earlier this year to guide the development and implementation of a new Official Community Plan for Oak Bay, the Committee meets twice monthly and reports to Mayor and Council.  Three Council members (Pam Copley, John Herbert and Cairine Green) and the CAO serve on the Committee with six volunteers who represent the community at large.  Pam Copley chairs the Committee and Cairine Green is responsible for recording and distributing process notes.

As of December 2012, the Committee has completed development of the RFP and evaluation criteria processes, used to select the consultant who will conduct research and community/stakeholder consultations and prepare the new OCP document according to a standard contract.  The budget for the entire process is approximately $140,000 and expected completion is by Spring 2014.

I am impressed with the talent, skills and ability of volunteer members who have made an 18-month commitment to this review process.  They provide excellent representation of our community at large and I look forward to my continued involvement in this significant project.

 Upland Land Use Committee

Councillors Copley, Herbert and Green are Committee members and on behalf of Mayor and Council, make site visits and recommendations on land use decisions related to development permits in the Uplands.  There have been a number of requests that originate from Oak Bay’s Building and Planning Department, which also coordinates site visits that occur at intervals throughout the year.  Roy Thomassen attends visits and confers with Council members, as well as provides pertinent information about applications.